Last episode, “Blindsided,” was a lot of action and focus on our titular character, Matt Murdock. Matt is barely in “The Perfect Game,” but we learn a lot about Benjamin “Dex” Poindexter, and see a good bit of the rest of the cast. From what we see here, the inevitable fight between Matt and Dex is going to be really impressive when it happens. There will be a spoiler or two below.
Dex goes through his morning routine to start the episode, showing that he’s fairly OCD and that he has ties to a suicide hotline, which isn’t something I’d have expected. The cab that was part of Matt’s wild ride at the end of last episode gets pulled from the water, and, initially as voiceover before the scene changes, Donovan tells Fisk there’s no corpse here. They debate Matt’s survival, and Fisk shows Donovan some footage that clearly demonstrates Matt is no ordinary blind man. Yeah, that secret identity is less secret all the time. Later, at the bargaining table, Donovan argues with the FBI on behalf of his client. Fisk makes a speech and offers the FBI another tip on someone he did business with, a very crooked and evil man: Matt Murdock, Esquire.
It’s a great move by Fisk, but it hinges on either bad writing or really sloppy work by the FBI. As I recall, Nelson and Murdock’s role in putting Fisk behind bars was fairly public, or at least, not secret. But, as far as I can tell, Ray and his fellow agents spend zero time researching this latest tip and engage in a full-scale Matt hunt. That just doesn’t ring true for me, no matter how interesting a plot point it is. As the FBI raids Matt’s empty apartment, and finds wet clothes (we know why, they don’t), Dex shadows his woman of interest, coming off more and more stalkerish.
Karen lingers in a bar and finally manages to talk face to face with Felix Manning, a man connected to Fisk’s shadowy dealings. All she gets is a big surprise, as Felix not only knows who she is but a great deal about her. Thrown by this, Karen stalks off and gets followed very obviously by several men. They aren’t who she first thinks, and lead to her finding out about the latest web of lies Fisk is spinning. She gets a blast from the past, there’s a lot of verbal back and forth, and I have to say some people are refusing to see or hear what they don’t want to at this point.
Donovan brings some “research material” to Fisk, and then withdraws into an audiobook to give his client privacy. That’s not at all what a lawyer is supposed to be doing here, but Donovan is at the very least a supervillain associate at this point, somewhere between henchman and right-hand-man. Fisk pulls the same trick we’ve seen Misty Knight do over on Luke Cage, going over evidence and making it come alive. This reveals a lot about Dex’s early days, some tragic events, and some things that should have disqualified him from both Army and FBI service. Fisk skips through years of Dex’s life, which is, admittedly, tragic. We also see what the tie to both the suicide hotline and the woman he’s stalking is. Some of the things Fisk “sees” really don’t make any sense to be in the file, like some things Dex did at the hotline and his odd dining habits. We do see a nod to Dex’s comic book Bullseye costume in some of the past sequences.
Coming back to reality after some well done lighting effects, Donovan asks why Fisk is digging in to this particular agent so much. Fisk, as ever, has a plan, and it bodes ill for the man that saved his life. Especially in Fisk’s world, no good deed goes unpunished. Dex manages to “accidentally” run into the woman, Julie, and things go pretty well at this meeting. Someone should have quit while they were ahead.
Foggy holds a campaign rally at his family butcher shop. He’s really running with Marci’s idea, and the man does have some charm when he chooses to use it. He deals with several people, and gets a touching endorsement, although it’s based more on negative feelings about Fisk than anything positive about Foggy, or even anything at all about his opponent, DA Tower. Foggy ends up with an unwelcome guest who says a lot of things Foggy doesn’t believe. It’s not a great evening for Foggy, but he does get in some good lines. He also hears a few things that make him realize at least a bit of what Matt’s been up to. If he keeps this up, Matt is going to have fewer friends than Frank Castle, and that’s an impressive trick.
Dex and Julie meet up, and it starts off well enough. It’s another scene that requires a character to do something foolish in order to make it work, which I never really enjoy. Here, Dex, a veteran of the Army, and the FBI, a seasoned killer and survivor of many conflicts, gets more flustered than a teenager on a first date, with some disastrous results. It goes from a friendly meet up to something out of a thriller, and it’s not a story Julie wants to be part of, not that I blame her. Once things start going badly, Dex makes things absolutely as bad as possible. As in, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get a visit from the police after this, which would be bad for him with the OPR already sniffing around.
Karen comes to the Nelson family shop to meet with Foggy. She’s clearly rattled, making Foggy think at one point she gave away Matt’s big secret to the Feds. She didn’t, but at this point, I don’t know if that would be much worse. Foggy is worried about the possible fallout from all this, and starts blaming himself for some of what’s happened. He also entertainingly mentions he shouldn’t have “let” Matt do something. From everything we’ve seen of both men, Foggy is in no position to stop Matt doing anything he wants to. Karen hires Foggy at a great discount to get attorney/client privilege, and then makes a surprising confession. I guess it’s for dramatic effect within the scene, but she leaves out some very important parts of the story. I really hope she gives a better explanation later.
The final two scenes focus on either side of the showdown we all know is coming. Dex gets home from his disastrous dinner, and vents his rage on his apartment. If anyone from work comes by, he’s going to have a lot of explaining to do. I guess he’s lucky he doesn’t have any friends, or at least we’ve seen no trace of any. At the end of his tantrum, he does something that’s right out of his comic book counterpart’s arsenal of tricks, which doesn’t look good for Julie.
Matt makes his only appearance, and it’s in a short flashback. He gets home after the damper-than-expected cab ride, and leaves the things Ray will find later. Exhausted, he either takes a nap or passes out, or something in-between. Courtesy of his enhanced hearing, he gets a heads-up, and we experience Ray’s earlier raid from another perspective. Ray’s team is clearly not as thorough as they should be, and Mat listens in to some disturbing news about himself. His big secret is still intact, but there’s not much difference at this point. I’m also not sure about the tactics Ray uses both before and after the raid. Given Matt’s public status and the accusations from Fisk, Ray seems to be taking things too far.
What I liked: The insight into Dex was interesting, and showed how carefully Fisk plans things. Karen is obsessive, but she sticks to her guns and you have to admire that. She handled herself well during the questioning. So far, the most likeable person this season is Foggy, or maybe Marci. I do feel bad for everything Foggy is going through, none of which is his fault. Fisk sharing Misty’s talent was a surprise, but it makes a certain degree of sense. The nod to Bullseye’s costume was nice.
What I didn’t: There was a lot of odd writing in this one. Most fans complained a lot about the writing in season one of Iron Fist. I think some of this was at least that bad. Dex’s background doesn’t really work. Some of what Fisk learned shouldn’t have been in Dex’s records. Ray is being willfully blind so he doesn’t have to look too closely at his source. Matt’s secret shouldn’t last long at this rate. At this rate, I don’t think Matt will be back in costume this season, which means ever again. Karen didn’t tell her story well. Felix knew a whole lot going into a meeting he probably wasn’t expecting.
I found this episode a bit disappointing. It was lacking in action and had some plot holes, if not outright pits. I’ll give this a 2.5 and that might be a tiny bit generous. The Netflix writers can do better. I know, I’ve seen it. I hope they get back there soon.